Woman wins seat in Saudi election

Saudi Arabia - women leaving voting area after firsst election

A Saudi woman has won a seat on Mecca’s municipal council in Saudi Arabia’s first ever elections open to female voters and candidates, the country’s election commission has announced.

Article taken with thanks to The Guardian, Sunday 13 December 2015

Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi was elected to the council of Madrakah, a region in the holy city of Mecca, the official SPA news agency reported, citing election commission president Osama al-Bar.

She was running against seven men and two women, he said.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, including a ban on driving.

It was the last country to allow only men to vote, and polling stations were segregated for Saturday’s election.

Among the 6,440 candidates were more than 900 women, who overcame a number of obstacles to participate in the landmark poll.

Female candidates could not directly meet any male voters during their campaigns.

Female voters said registration was hindered by factors including bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of transport.

As a result women accounted for fewer than 10% of registered voters. Few female candidates were expected to be elected.

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